Posts Tagged ‘ #greenbelt_ ’

#blogjammin: magic of movies

[from Monday]

yesterday’s exodus of cloud-cover made for both an extremely chilly experience last night and a bright and warm day today – sunburn and ground frost are not two things that often share the same 24hrs, but in many ways greenbelt_ is very much about the sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes truly inspiring things that issue from the marriage of queer bed fellows (a metaphor to cheer the hearts of Anglican Mainstream if ever there was one.)

it’s also a metaphor that speaks rather well to the realm of cinema and in particular the discussion and criticism of films, a phenomenon that was well represented at the races today with Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode interviewing (hello to) David Morrissey and Emma Wee about their work with creative arts charity CAST, a screening of Jeremy Hardy Vs The Israeli Army followed by a discussion of the film led by Jeremy and the co-founder of Open Jerusalem, Maxim Sansour, and then Gareth Higgins, Nev Pierce and Luke Walton debating the best films of the last greenbelt_ year.

Jeremy Hardy is an extremely funny man. Jeremy Hardy Vs The Israeli Army is not a very funny film. it is a film that you should see, however. it shines eye-opening light on the remarkable work being done by international volunteers who choose to go to the occupied territories to put themselves in the line (quite literally) of Israeli tanks and bullets in order to protect and help the lives of Palestinians who just want to eat and sleep and go to school safely, but cannot. if you care about the abuse of humans by humans and haven’t seen it, then try to.

after lunch i shuffled gingerly towards where the Mayo/Kermode wittertainment machine would be doing their thing, expecting to be confronted by a large queue and the minor pang of guilt that comes from using a media pass to cut to the front, but was surprised that the turn-out was on the modest side.

those that had come along were treated to the premier of the short film that David Morrissey has put together to promote the work of the Creative Arts Schools Trust, a charity that seeks to use creative arts as a teaching tool in places where they are considered a luxury, and luxuries are extremely scarce. The film beautifully documents a project based around a week of workshops with school children from the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. it shows, in a sensitive, but striking way the power of the arts to connect with and change the lives of marginalised children who are rapidly learning that unless they are conventionally smart then there is even less of a chance of them escaping the frighteningly limited confines within which their community exists.

Morrissey (David that is, not the grumpy, ageing singer) spoke from personal experience about the abilities of drama to give a voice and bring inspiration to struggling children, and CAST’s chief executive Emma Wee spoke passionately about the impact of the work in Beirut and the scope of their future plans.

there was also some time for the more familiar banter that we expect from the two Drs and even an impromptu song from The Dodge Brothers who joined Dr K on stage at Dr M’s request and gave us a sample of the skiffle goodness that awaits us this evening. once more first and third beat clapping broken out that was nothing short of awful – this really must be addressed at GB, seriously, by John Bell or someone that everybody here listens to.

a quick march over to the Film venue saw me in plenty of time for the much anticipated greenbelt_ film revue. Gareth Higgins (whose work i have already waxed lyrical about) worked his way through his favs, worsties and nearlys of the year (to occasional spates of half-hearted cheering a booing) and then discussed the nominations and winners of the Second Annual Greenbelt Oscars.

while the critics singled out and spoke in depth about all sorts of interesting movies from Inception to The Philosopher Kings for praise, mirroring the fundamental weakness of democracy, when it came to the awards it was the opinion of the people that counted.

the list of winners looked something like this:

Best Baddie: Lotso from Toy Story 3
Best Children’s Film that adults enjoy: Up
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan
Best Uplifting Moment: The house lifts off in Up
Best Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio
Best Film: Toy Story 3

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right i’m off to sharpen my quiff and get my jive on to The Dodge Brothers


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#blogjammin: rev raises roof

[from Sunday]

given the (entirely appropriate) way that the eucharist always clears out the Sunday morning schedule across the board – and this year’s seemed to be passionately embraced as a return to solid GBness, rizla cannons and all – and the fact that tonight was always entirely bound to be Beverley (K)Night, with the UK soul legend bringing a huge and lingering smile to mainstage’s face, it is perhaps surprising that the day really belonged to comedy.

although when you consider that Milton Jones was both performing to Centaur, and then later being interviewed, and that James Wood, the writer of the BBC’s excellent ecclesiastical comedy Rev, was booked to be conversing about the show, then perhaps it’s not so surprising.

however, as throughout the day excited whispers began to give rise to rumours, anticipation began to seep from all quarters. in the end, of course, the gossip was true, and not only did Rev’s brilliant lead actor (and star of In The Loop and Pirates of the Caribbean among other things) Tom Hollander join Wood for the amazing Big Top Q & A session, but it emerged that the whole Rev team were on site filming some footage which will hopefully (surely?!) appear at some point as part of a second series.

“My brother”, quipped Milton Jones, “is currently recovering from massive head injuries. Well, when you have a massive head, you tend to pick up injuries.” rarely are his jokes longer than that, but then rarely do they not raise at least a chuckle, if not something more energy-sapping. one after another he fires them at the audience, and, like a cluster of obese 18th century giants huddled round the end of a blunderbuss, eventually you will get hurt, bad. it’s a barrage of comedy which never lingers, never waits but just keeps on coming.

“Perhaps, to promote animal rights, horses should throw themselves in front of Suffragettes … I hear one of the Sugababes has quit – diabetes apparently … For a recent birthday my family were so kind, they all clubbed together and got me some expensive vouchers, for a clinic in Switzerland.”

later, in the Big Top, Jones reflected on various aspects of his experiences of working in comedy, his favourite fellow performers and Cheggersgate – as noone called it. the queue was such that if you got in, you were very fortunate and if you didn’t, you’ll no-doubt be keen to read a close account of what was said from bloggers who did.

extracting humour from the everyday struggles of Adam Smallbone, a conscientious inner-city London priest, Rev recently graced the screens of people who had them pointed towards BBC2 on Monday nights at around 10pm. its mix of gentle but heartwarming humour, touching sentiment and a refreshingly honest grounding in accurate research, has endeared itself to many, even causing the Guardian to write nice things about something vaguely religious. certainly it was a big hit in the penthouse and, given the staggering queues outside the Big Top and overwhelmingly appreciative atmosphere evaporating off the crowd of punters within like so much love steam, i’d say we weren’t alone.

following a VT medley of highlights from the show, James and Tom, as i feel i can now address them, strode onto stage to rapturous applause. they graciously answered well chosen questions for around an hour and seemed genuinely touched by the obvious affection in the room for the show, them and the character of Colin as well as intrigued by the antipathy for Darren, the evo-vic who hijacked Adam’s church in episode 2.

“Yes we went there, and I actually really liked it”, was how Wood replied to several of the audience’s suggestion that Darren’s outfit might have been based on a certain wealthy and well attended London evangelical church. “In fact, I felt so good there, I stayed for the next service, I went round again. The attractive women were so friendly.”

answering, with good humour and grace, questions which probed their inspirations, their consultation with real-life priests, the response they’ve received and even how making the series has impacted their spiritual lives (which is about as close to an altar-call as GB could muster or would want), they came across as lovely human beings.

it was a truly classic greenbelt_ moment and i left in a fantastic mood and no doubt that the reason the programme has left such a big impression on the GB faithful is down not just to the way they valued and approached the research that was put in, but because of the reality and honesty of these people’s perspectives on faith in general, and their own religious experiences.

#blogjammin: discipline, death and don’t get me started

after devoting my attentions to the music lineup last night, Saturday was the day to plunge myself headlong into the beating heart of greenbelt_ that is the talks program.

i started and finished my stints of sitting and listening with two sessions with the inimitable Texan theological agitator that is Stanley Hauerwas, and in between took in the enlightening musings of, amongst others, Mark Yaconelli and Peter Oborne.

Mark is co-director of the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project (YMSP) which (somewhat bizarrely) has turned endowments from the company that makes Prozac into a program to introduce young people all across the U.S. to the practices and ideas of contemplative spirituality. as one might expect, therefore, his talk centred around the relationship between action and reflection in the Christian life. drawing inspiration from, among other places, the story of the prodigal son, Mark highlighted a theme that i found would reoccur for me in Stanley Hauerwas’ later session, that of the creative potential and radical importance of spiritual discipline.

following on from the morning session in which he concluded expanding on issues arising from his recently published memoirs, Duke’s Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics presented his thoughts on the nature of the god to which American civil religion pays its homage. summarising his conception of the modernist, Liberal foundations of popular American theology by means of the phrase “the story that there is no story except the story that we chose when we didn’t have a story”, Hauerwas illuminated how the basis for spiritual discipline – along with, for example, covenants like marriage – is devastatingly corroded by the notion that humans are (and must be) free to choose who and what they are, and that death has become the ultimate, inconceivable scandal.

discipline, dear friends, was something i needed in spades during The Spectator and ex-Daily Mail political commentator Oborne’s ‘interesting’ talk about the nature and role of virtue in politics. if i were being supremely placid, i would say that i was disappointed (if not surprised) that references to Aristotle, Kant and MacIntyre were absent while those to Machiavelli and Plato flowed fairly freely. if, however, i were allowing the anger to rise once more, i would rant on and on about how infuriatingly reactionary, ill-conceived and poorly delivered the session was.

by means of a via media, perhaps i will instead focus on my sense that it was a waste of a good opportunity for a someone from a political and philosophical stable significantly distinct from that of the average contributor, to challenge a GB audience with something as well reasoned, well researched and well presented as it was, well, provocative.

all in all it has been a day of talks that has offered stimulations of various ilk, the majority of which were welcome and worthwhile.

#blogjammin: it’s friday night

good evening from a mildly moist, but fully-swinging greenbelt_

after a later-than-ideal arrival on site, around half past the middle of the day, the afternoon passed in a blur of ground sheets, important people finding, team meetings and food scouting. tonight, however, was all about the noise being well and truly brought on mainstage.

following on from a band who were able to draw a large crowd and please them well despite not having a name, my evening was jump started when i started jumping to Ugly Duckling. Andy C, Dizzy Dustin and the brilliant Young Einstein rocked it fresh mode and guided an initially modest & fairly hesitant, but steadily increasing crowd through a flurry of rain and a selection of treats from their back catalogue.

the UD really are a class act. they always come across as three guys who really enjoy their job, and they play the oldies with as much grace and style as the ‘cuts’ from the latest ‘joint’. we got the theatrical arrival of The Duke (Einstein’s gold chain of Eye On The… fame), which invariably introduces a rendition of that first album crowd pleaser, and it was as all as fresh and fun as it was the first time I saw them do it nearly ten years ago.

theres’ no doubt that Andy and Dizzy did their thing and worked the mic right, but as always i would want to draw special attention to the guy on the ones and twos. at a time when it’s becoming a rarer and rarer phenomenon, Einstein showed DJs everywhere how to hold it down by running the entire show on crispy cut-up, back to back slabs of vinyl – the guy is a legend.

after the Long Beach residents whipped mainstage into semi-frenzy and the sun set, british hiphop guru Ty took the stage (well, following the obligatory pause for annoying and over-the-top crowd-working to cover the tech work), and class followed class.

if it was a treat to get a stripped-down set powered by a vinyl-only beat-fiend, then it was equally so to see Ty take the stage backed by a live band that was crisp of snare and sure-footed of bassline. having been slightly slow on the uptake with regard to the latest album (Special Kind of Fool), i didn’t recognise that many tunes, but along with the rest of mainstage i was a happy mixture of transfixed by the smooth vocals and a puppet to the raw beat.

all in all a great start to proceedings.

i’m now off back to mainstage to catch the end of Courtney Pine and then to Centaur for this year’s first helping of Last Orders.

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on a personal note, loyal RQT fans will be glad to hear that despite getting his felt a little damp in a short rain shower, the #gastrognome was soon in his element after having located a van serving the pies he enjoyed so much at the Festival of South West Food & Drink earlier on this year. almost immediately after having finished his steak pie and minty peas, and before i’d even tucked him in, he was fast asleep in his mini tent.

#blogjammin: why i’m excited – prof dr gareth higgins

this post in summary:

some people take films seriously. most people don’t …

Gareth Higgins does.

Gareth is a man who is from Belfast – the home of Queen’s University, George Best and modern British terrorism. he now lives in North Carolina – the home of the Charlotte Bobcats, Duke & UNC, the Outer Banks and several of the money type ones, including Bank of America.

he was a student at the aformentioned Queen’s where he read for a BA and a PhD, both in Sociology (no i’ve not heard of it either, but apparently it’s a combination of dodgy maths and things said by Weber). in spite of that, he has a sharp mind and a keen theological sensibility, both of which he directs towards cinema, as well as a myriad of issues from postmodern philosophy to violence.

in addition to hearing him speak at greenbelt_ on several occasions about various aspects of cinema and culture, and give his regular rundown of the top ten (or occasionally fourteen) films released in the intervening year, i have for a long time enjoyed listening to the The Film Talk podcasts that he makes in collaboration with producer/director Jett Loe.

TFT is a great podcast not just because both presenters are witty, knowledgeable and interesting human beings, but because he and Jett have one of those relationships where both party is of the requisite intelligence, good humour, confidence and humility that they can happily and entertainingly argue with and shout at each other, in detail and for a sustained period, without it being either overly corrosive or tedious.

another thing i really like is their commitment to the idea that rather than being a series of distinct episodes, TFT is, as they describe it, one long conversation which never ends. they bring pleasingly different perspectives and concerns to and away from the films that they discuss, and rarely do they see eye to exact eye. a good recent example being their disagreement about the new Phillip Noyce film Salt, which Gareth interpreted as violent, misogynistic and nationalist propaganda that comes close to the point of neo-fascism, while Jett thought it not only one of the most anti-nationalistic commercial films of recent years, but also a flawed, yet worthwhile, popular feminist thesis about the social transition away from male violence. they both argued instructively and passionately from content, style and (Jett’s favourite) photographic technique, and were happy to remain of opposite persuasions regarding the meaning. i’ve not seen it yet, but their conversation made me far keener to do so than i would have otherwise been.

Gareth is speaking three times over the weekend:

first on Saturday at 5:00pm in the Film venue (above the skate park), when he will be interviewing Pip Piper and Rob Taylor about their work co-producing the new adaptation of Mike Riddell‘s The Insatiable Moon.

later that night, at 9:30pm, he will be talking in the Bethlehem tent (right by the camping) about his forthcoming book Cinematic States which chronicles his journey through 50 films, one from each US state, and his resulting reflections on the role of movies in American life and discourse.

then on Monday at 5:00pm he will be joined in the Film venue by Chris Curtis and Luke Walton to review the films of the last year and hand out the awards at the Second Annual Greenbelt Academy Awards.

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find out more about Gareth’s various contributions to the world by:

visiting his blog: godisnotelsewhere.wordpress.com/

following him on Twitter: @garethhigginsbe

and checking out The Film Talk blog and podcast

and reading his book How Movies Helped Save My Soul

#showertune: ‘ha ha’ by ty

NO SLEEP TILL .. dada da daa da da (etc.) BROOKLYN …

by which, of course, i mean one sleep till greenbelt_ – and things are getting pretty darned exciting along with pretty busy. today i have to: do a normal day’s stint of writing/editing, seek out a hidden tailor and give him some trousers for alteration, pack my clothes, our tent and other stuff and drop a stranger’s cat in a bin. it’s a daunting schedule.

The Dr has taken charge of buying the food this year, which is good because i’ve not had to worry about spending time shopping, but bad because we’ll end up eating pasta, fruit and nuts instead of pot noodle, biscuits and cake.

today’s #showertune is a mini look-ahead to ten past eight tomorrow night on the Main Stage in the form of Ha Ha by Ty

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#showertune: ‘debil’s dream’ by the apples

continuing (and in many ways establishing) our theme concerning all things apples, today’s #showertune comes to us courtesy of Israeli funk ensemble התפוחים (ha tappûwakhim) a.k.a. The Apples, who, since signing with the incomparable Freestyle records, have established themselves as one of the best-liked contemporary funk bands of all those known about within my head.

all of you ‘belters out there may well remember their greenbelt_ performances at last year, on the main stage and in the big top. they were excellent.

so, without further ado (other than this ado), here’s:

Debil’s Dream by The Apples

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